One of my fondest memories since the launch of our little website here has been the road trip that I took in a 2013 Lexus LS460 FSport. This year, with an all-new Lexus LS500, it was high time to re-create that trip to the New Hampshire coast. The weather was perfect, and the car did not disappoint either.
The biggest notable loss for 2019 is the is the naturally-aspirated V8, replaced with an ever-so-slightly more frugal twin-turbocharged 3.4L V6. The performance numbers are similar, with 416 horsepower and 443lb-ft of torque, but gone is the V8 sound that was so enticing with the old car. The new 10 speed transmission is without fault, however. Excellent on the highway and very quick to kick down when in the appropriate mode, this is the same transmission we loved in the LC500 just last year. This new LS is longer and wider than before, helping improve overall ride quality. It may have been the most comfortable car we’ve been in since the S-Class earlier this year. The steering is vague regardless of which mode you’re in, and the car never feels like its shrinks around you. But that’s never what the LS has been about. The added width and length really assists with interior space as well. This car feels large properly large in every sense. Our tester was fitted with the optional luxury rear seating package, which allowed for full recline. The front seat massage was also the best massage we’ve had in a car to date. The choice of black interior in our tester didn’t highlight any of the intricacies of the all-new interior design. There are a lot of character lines, different materials, and breaks in patterns to be found. I’m not entirely sure it all comes together to be something special. The S Class interior still shines above in that category.
Lexus includes its suite of safety systems in the LS, and we were extra thankful for the superb 360-degree camera which made parking the 17-foot long car a breeze. Unfortunately, the infotainment interface is still lacking. The touchpad remains the only way to navigate the large interior screen. We’re still waiting for the day that it becomes a touchscreen. Combine that with some serious UI cleanup and maybe we could finally leverage all that screen real estate to its full potential. To be fair, Lexus’ system remains more intuitive than Mercedes.
Outside the LS now wears an even more robust spindle grille with multitudes of lines and three-dimensional patterns. Lets just say there would be a lot of shrapnel if there were to be a crash. The design is unmistakably Lexus, for better or worse. The large grille works well in this application, just like to does on the LC500. You know a Lexus is approaching, but we’re not sure if you’d notice it wasn’t an ES. The corporate face has taken over, leaving little room for originality or uniqueness for Lexus’ flagship sedan.
Once you’re behind the wheel and driving down the road, you realize how isolating the experience is. The car gets on with it’s job in an absolutely effortless way. Comfort is the priority here and the LS delivers in spades. Our four hour ride left no one weary, and the aforementioned massaged, reclining seats were really helpful if we felt we needed to stretch out. Even with all the room, it does feel a bit like Lexus has locked you in a a very plush isolation chamber, immune to the outside world and yet still satisfied with all the accouterments in your possession. The LS is the greatest showman for your own private show, and perhaps best enjoyed on a long trip much like ours.
|2019 Lexus LS500 AWD
|Mark Levinson 23-speaker 2,400-watt surround sound audio system||$1,940|
|Adaptive variable air suspension||$1,500|
|20″ split-10-spoke wheels||$1,200|
|Panoramic view monitor||$800|
|Art wood organic trim||$800|
|Heated wood-and-leather-trimmed steering wheel||$410|
|As Tested MSRP||$98,960|